It's that time of year again! Your company is hosting a Christmas party, you have a black tie fundraiser event, your girlfriend wants to be wined and dined on New Years Eve... and you have NO idea what to wear. Putting together occasion specific and appropriate outfits is difficult and trying to sort out the difference between business formal, business casual, formal, black-tie, casual, etc. is a lot to wrap your head around, especially for those of us who do not fall into the 'fashion savvy' category.
This post is designed to help you prepare for any event the holiday season may throw your way.
Black-tie & formal events.
If an invitation says black-tie, it should be taken as mandatory not as a suggestion. You will never, ever be overdressed at a black-tie event if you are wearing a black tuxedo and a black tie, and the last thing you want to be is underdressed. Don't be the guy who shows up at a black-tie event in a navy suit and patterned tie.
A properly fitted tuxedo is something that every man should invest in and have dry-cleaned and ready to wear in his wardrobe. It is one of those pieces that although will not be worn often, it will never go out of style and will be necessary at various times/events throughout your life. Purchase a tuxedo, get it altered to fit your body perfectly, and it will be around forever.
A couple more important details: ensure your shirt is white, not stained and freshly pressed, and that your shoes are black leather, in good condition and are freshly polished. French cuffs are a nice touch but if you're going to wear them, ensure the cufflinks are simple and classic. Basic silver or gold with small detailing is fine. Black-tie events are not the time to bust out your "Greatest Dad" bright blue cufflinks from your son (even though they're a super cute gift).
For the swanky, but not formal.
It is common for a lot of companies, especially here in Calgary, to host Christmas parties that are fancy but not quite as fancy as a black-tie event. If this sounds like your event, this part is for you.
The key here is to look put together... to look dapper and classic but not cheap. I am not saying you need to spend a ton of money on your ensemble, but you do need to know how to properly put a Christmas party appropriate outfit together. For these types of parties, I'd suggest a blue, black or dark grey suit, black or brown shoes (polished), a simple shirt and a tie that has a pop of colour. The tie shown below is coloured but is muted enough to ensure your look remains classy.
Keep accessories minimal - I'd suggest cufflinks, a tie clip, a pocket square that is folded perfectly, and a nice watch to match your shoes and belt, if you choose to wear a belt (sans belt is fine). Ensure your hair has been freshly cut and is nicely coiffed, and you've recently shaved or trimmed your beard. Wear cologne but don't overdo it. There is nothing worse than a man who smells like he has just bathed in Aqua di Gio.
For the casual dinner party.
Dinner parties are popular amongst friends during the holiday season and because it is the holiday season, you should put a little bit more thought into your ensemble than you would for a dinner party at any other time of the year.
I'd suggest pairing a simple and classic cashmere or wool sweater with a pair of dark denim and a nice, textured sport coat. Because most dinner parties are hosted at homes, and therefore you will be taking your shoes off, wearing a pair of great socks is a good idea.
There you have it, three different ensembles for three different occasions. If you have an event that does not fall into any of the above categories and you're unsure what you should wear, leave a comment below or drop me a line!
Thanks for reading!
- Ensemble Style